A Tale of Two Prisoners


The Catholic teaching of just war is an extension of the duty of men to protect women and children from violence, but Meriam Ibrahim and her two children are sitting in prison and she will likely earn the martyr’s crown of glory for her courageous defense of their Christian faith while the cowardly deserter Bowe Bergdahl is free. To add insult to injury, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, of Benghazi Youtube video fame, dutifully went on television earlier this week to proclaim that Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction,” even though it has been known for some time that Bergdahl may have turned traitor and revealed information leading to the death of many of his brothers in arms. Yesterday, it was reported that he may have not been a prisoner at all, but is alleged to have been fraternizing with the Taliban and declaring Jihad on the United States.

No #hashtag for Meriam Ibrahim?

No #hashtag for Meriam Ibrahim?

The Muslim brother of Meriam Ibrahim told the press that she deserves to be executed, because she was raised by their Ethiopian mother as a Christian. Ibrahim’s husband, who is also a Christian, is a U.S. citizen living in New Hampshire, which means that their 18 month-old son and the newborn girl who was born last week while her mother was shackled to the floor are also American citizens according to the ancient principle of jus sanguinis. Our government is helpfully assisting Daniel Wani, who has been a citizen since 2005, by making him submit to a DNA test to prove whether he really is the father. No word yet on whether Michelle Obama is preparing to post any “selfies” to raise awareness of the plight of Ibrahim and her children who will never be reunited with their father if the Sudanese government has its way.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is being nursed back to health after being released in exchange for the freedom of five of the more notorious Taliban inmates of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in violation of the requirement to notify Congress at least 30 days prior to any such action and against the strenuous objections of military and intelligence experts. President Obama is not afraid to use his pen and his phone to override the standard bureaucratic channels–when he wants to. In the days following the Rose Garden ceremony which began with a Muslim blessing offered by Bergdahl’s eccentric father, it has been revealed that both the father and the son in the Bergdahl family have long sympathized more with our Taliban enemies than with, say, the plight of Afghan girls who were regularly beaten and even stoned to death for the crime of attending school after the age of eight.

The World’s Greatest Orator was right when he tried to say that America leaves no man behind, although not in so many words. This rule is not “pretty sacred,” as the President so eloquently put it, demonstrating, as always, his profound mastery of the spoken word, but is the birthright of every American citizen. Whether in the mountains of Afghanistan or a Sudanese prison or a North Korean re-education camp, American citizens should be able to depend on their country to secure their freedom. As Lord Palmerston said addressing Parliament regarding the protection afforded to British subjects wherever they might reside:

“…I therefore fearlessly challenge the verdict which this House, as representing a political, a commercial, a constitutional country, is to give on the question now brought before it…whether, as the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say Civis Romanus sum; so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England, will protect him against injustice and wrong.”

Emaciated prisoners aboard the prison ship HMS Jersey

Emaciated prisoners aboard the prison ship HMS Jersey

What Lord Palmerston said of British subjects should apply equally to an American today. The injustice of oppression and captivity appears in scripture and long predates the separation of America and Britain. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington took great pains to secure the freedom of patriots rotting in British prison ships in squalid and vile conditions. For every American prisoner abused or killed and for every town that was sacked and burned, Washington was determined that British prisoners of war should feel a proportionate injury. His policies may seem harsh to us today by the standards of the Geneva Conventions, but those policies unquestionably saved the lives of thousands of patriots.

Unfortunately, President Obama seems to think that Bowe Bergdahl is the patriot but Meriam Ibrahim and her two children are not worthy of our attention. In this whole sad and shameful affair, we see the hypocrisy and duplicity of modern liberalism in stark relief. Bowe Bergdahl went to Afghanistan to protect the lives and the basic human rights of women and children like Meriam Ibrahim and her family, but it is they who now will pay the price for his hero’s welcome. In this tale of two prisoners, the protector neglected his duty, and those in need of protection are instead neglected.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

Joshua Bowman joined in full communion with the Catholic Church in 2010 after many years in the spiritual wilderness. He recently moved back to his beloved native Virginia from Columbus, Ohio with his growing family and writes on religion, politics, history, and geographical curiosities.

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